4 Easy Meatless Meals to Celebrate Everyday Vegetables

It is impossible to separate vegetables from seasonality — especially at the height of summer — but you can be liberated from the anxiety of cooking certain vegetables at specific times of the year. Eat seasonally if you can, but don’t stress if you can’t. There are enough causes of angst in the world; finding vegetables should not be one of them.

Vegetables are inherently more flexible and adaptable than people think, and the more you cook with them, the more you experiment and explore, the more multifaceted they become.

These recipes are built on the hardworking, dependable vegetables we turn to most in daily cooking — the everyday produce that’s accessible, versatile, adaptable and practical. With our busy lives, these qualities are always paramount. These recipes came about through the real-life predicament of needing to cook dinner, with produce unearthed from the fridge and a few select, hard-hitting pantry items.

For vegetarian recipes like these, the presence of umami, or “deliciousness” as it roughly translates to from Japanese, is paramount. It is a flavor high, that note of savoriness that keeps us coming back for the next bite. Umami is ultimately the difference between a dish that is good and one that is delicious — and these are undoubtedly delicious.

Often, vegetables are treated with excessive delicacy, or simply overlooked on the plate. These dishes showcase how readily they star in hearty yet fresh vegetarian meals.

Customize your chips by adding other seasonings, such as paprika, harissa, nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan or Cheddar.Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

Recipe: Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips With Fried Chickpeas and Avocado

Kale chips team up with fried chickpeas, avocado and a frizzled egg for a delightfully crunchy and creamy brunch or dinner.

Full of flavor, corn cobs are used to create a quick, sweet corn-infused water to cook the noodles.Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

Recipe: Soy-Butter Corn Ramen

A nod to wafu pasta dishes, which fuse Japanese and Italian cooking traditions, this simple one-pot noodle meal employs the sweetness of summer corn to balance the umami of the butter and soy sauce.

If you have leftover mashed potatoes, you can use them for taco filling.Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

Recipe: Crispy Potato Tacos

Stuffed with potato and cheese, these tacos de papa include the potato skins in the filling to add a nice texture and make these a deeply satisfying meal.

Endlessly adaptable, this dish works with any leafy greens, and shiitake mushrooms can be used instead of tofu.Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

Recipe: Cashew Celery

In this vegan stir-fry, celery delivers a gratifying crisp-tender crunch, while cashews add a creamy nuttiness and tofu provides substance.

This article is excerpted from “Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds,” by Hetty Lui McKinnon (Alfred A. Knopf, 2023).

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